On the other end, they said, "What, ACORN? Wait a minute, this is the Republican Party in D.C. calling the Republican Party in Illinois."
The ACORN member said, "ACORN has taken over the Republican Party in Illinois. Can I help you?"
The response: "Oh my God."
Why would they do such a thing? Why reform Now, and not reform When It's Convenient?
These families, many without heat in their homes, were demanding that President Bush release money for energy assistance and not slash funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). At least the jail had heat. It doesn't take many days to freeze and die in an unheated home in Chicago.
Mahaley Somerville, 81; Gwendolyn Stewart, 68; Beatrice Jackson, 53; and Virginia Goldman, a 27-year-old staff organizer, were arrested for trespassing at 32 W. Randolph, 17th floor, the offices of the Illinois and Cook County Republican Party when they went there to call on President Bush to rescind his proposed cuts in federal energy assistance.
"I'm 81 years old, and these old bones would be more comfortable in my own bed tonight," said Mahaley Somerville, longtime leader of the local ACORN chapter and organizer in Chicago's Westside Lawndale community. "But as long as there are other senior citizens living without heat tonight, we will not stop until the president hears us."
Because President Bush would be making his national speech on the economy in Chicago the next day, ACORN members called on him to add two things to his speech: Release $500 million in emergency energy assistance funds that were at his disposal; Fund the Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) at the same level as the previous year: $1.7 billion (instead of the $1.4 billion or less that Bush had threatened).
"It's too bad when the Republicans have to put senior citizens in jail and leave other seniors without heat," said Beatrice Jackson, president of Illinois ACORN. "But we won't stop until Bush understands that a leader should not let his people freeze."
More than 50 members of ACORN joined in the sit-in at Republican headquarters. The security guard in the lobby just watched as everyone trooped in, got in elevators, and headed to the 17th floor. The ACORN members went in, put down their blankets and pillows, and announced they were spending the night.
Doris Rodgers spoke. She was 81, had been without heat for two years, and still owed $2,400 on her bill, though she had been paying every month.
The police arrived and arrested three ACORN leaders and one staff organizer on charges of misdemeanor trespassing, but not before they took the place over and answered the phone as ACORN.